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Canadian Coyotes Bring Home Gold

Team Canada's remarkable rally leads to tournament triumph

by Alex Kinkopf @AEKinkopf / Arizona Coyotes

Four Coyotes are bringing home gold from the 2021 IIHF World Championship in Riga, Latvia.

The tournament Sunday ended with Team Canada's 3-2, overtime, gold medal-clinching victory over Finland.

As members of Team Canada, Darcy Kuemper, Michael Bunting and Adin Hill earned their first international medals; Bunting and Hill made their international debuts.

One more Coyote, albeit being off the ice, also brought home gold.

Coyotes Chief Hockey Development Officer Shane Doan served as Assistant General Manager for Hockey Canada and earned his third World Championship gold medal. Doan previously won gold as a player in 2003 and 2007.

Despite losing its first three tournament games, Canada rallied to win four straight games to survive the preliminary round and advance to the medal rounds.

"It was pretty incredible," Doan said. "To start the way we started, it was a little bit of a shocker. We didn't see that coming. We didn't play badly in the first three games, actually we played pretty well. But it was fun to see the group get its mojo going and get back at it. And it was really impressive to see what the players and coaching staff did, they were incredible.

"Once we started winning it was like, 'Okay, here we go.' And then that idea of belief, it really is a big thing, it gets you going."

Canada ralled from its tough tournament start with successive wins against Norway, Kazakhstan, Italy and Finland.

"Obviously, 0-3 is not the way you want to start the tournament," Kuemper said. "It wasn't looking very promising, but things fell in place for us. The biggest thing was not being overwhelmed by the negative start and not getting down on ourselves. We kept focusing on improving and got better every game. We were fortunate to get in and turn it into a gold medal victory. So, it was pretty special." 

Canada beat Russia in the quarter-finals, 2-1, in overtime. Kuemper stopped 24 of 25 shots. 

Canada faced off against USA in the semi-finals, and beat the Americans, 4-2. Kuemper turned in another strong performance, with 36 saves 

Canada won the gold medal game in overtime, beating Finland in dramatic fashion, 3-2. Kuemper made 29 saves, including three in overtime. 

"Well, If you want to make it as exciting as possible, let (the gold medal game) go to overtime," Kuemper said. "It was quite the roller coaster, just such a whirlwind. All three medal round games were incredibly fun; it was just a joy to be out there. To have the success that we did is unforgettable." 

Kuemper made eight starts during the tournament and posted a 5-2-0 record - including a perfect, 3-0-0 record during the single-elimination rounds. Kuemper recorded a 2.17 GAA and a .916 SV percentage in 470 minutes of play. 

"Kuemps was our number one guy," Doan said. "He was the guy we rode through the medal rounds. He was incredible. I was so impressed with his mental toughness and his ability to grind through (tough bounces early in the tournament). When we played Russia (in the quarter-finals), he was amazing. When we played the U.S. (in the semi-finals), he was really, really good. And same when we played Finland (in the final). He got stronger and stronger." 

Hill started two games and made one relief appearance during the tournament, posting a 1-1-0 record with a 1.73 GAA and a .909 SV percentage. He won his lone start and almost helped the Canadians to a comeback in his relief stint.

"Hiller was exactly what we needed," Doan said. "He was so positive and played a great game against Germany. He was really good. We were trying to get back in that game, and we gave up three breakaways as we were trying to get back up, and he stopped all three when it was 2-1. And the game-winning goal was a deflection off of our defenseman into the net. He was incredible. The coaching staff and everyone else raved about him."

Though Bunting did not record a point, he played all 10 games supplying the team with his characteristic brand of energy and feistiness. He played his role perfectly, Doan said. 

"Bunts was just absolutely prototypical Bunts," Doan said. "He was around the net, in the front of the net constantly dragging everyone into the battle, embracing his identity of being scrappy. He dragged everyone into the fight. He was so vital in keeping the emotion and energy up on our team." 

Bunting reflected on the experience. 

"To put on that Canadian jersey was a pretty cool experience to begin with," he said. "And being able to bring a gold home -- my dream pretty much came true. Everyone wrote us off, saying Canada was done. So, to come back and battle together, we had such a great group, and we ended up bringing home gold. So, I think that was pretty cool, and I don't think anybody has ever done that, so that will be something I remember forever."

The tournament marked Doan's eighth trip to the IIHF World Championship, second in a management position.

"That run draws you together as a group and it connects you for the rest of your life," he said. "Just an incredible experience, and something that I enjoyed so much as a player. So, when I was watching (the players) celebrate, their excitement, and talking with (Bunting, Hill and Kuemper), it reminded me that having the opportunity to end your hockey season with an emotional high, winning the World Championships, it's pretty special."

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